Why public park was removed from controversial apartment plan in Des Plaines

A proposed park can be removed from the planned seven-story apartment building in downtown Des Plaines, the city council decided late Tuesday.

In exchange, the real estate company behind the project will pay the city $300,000 instead of $10 for the municipal parking lot it will build on. Additionally, the company pledged to pay the city about $200,000 in building permit fees that earlier had been waived by the council.

The parking lot, at 1332 Webford Ave., was going to cost only $10 because the developers had promised to create the park.

A limited liability company called Mylo Residential Graceland Property wants to erect a seven-story, 131-unit building at the northwest corner of Graceland and Webford avenues. The company formerly had been called Compasspoint. Its leader, Joe Taylor, hasn't changed.

Despite opposition from many neighborhood residents, the city council approved the project in April. The plans called for the developers to buy the Journal & Topics Media Group's headquarters on Graceland Avenue, the parking lot and a neighboring building at 1330 Webford Ave. known as the Dance Building.

The Dance Building was to be razed and the land turned into a privately owned park that would be open to the public.

But during Tuesday's council meeting, an attorney for Taylor's group said his client and the current owner of that building, a limited liability company called Cloud4U that's led by Daniel Kosinski, haven't been able to close a deal, and he requested the park property be removed from the overall concept.

"We were never able to come to a reasonable agreement with (the owner) over the purchase of his property, nor was he able to meet the original closing date," attorney Bernard Citron said.

Citron also said his client wouldn't move forward with the apartment building proposal if the plans weren't changed.

An attorney for the building owner denied Citron's version of events and blamed the developer for the sale falling through. The attorney said eliminating the park plan and leaving the Dance Building standing so close to the much-larger apartment building will destroy his client's business.

Third Ward Alderman Sean Oskerka opposed the attempt by Taylor's company to change the development agreement with the city.

"I think it's a mistake to let them out of the original agreement," Oskerka said. "We need to set an example and hold him to his original deal."

Second Ward Alderman Colt Moylan supported the requested changes, however, noting that "plans do change." The planned apartment building will bring the city tax dollars and attract people downtown, he said.

Fifth Ward Alderman Carla Brookman backed the changes, too, saying a revised agreement is in the city's best interests.

Eight audience members shared their opinions of the requested changes, too.

The council eventually approved the requested changes with a pair of 5-3 votes. In both cases, the "no" votes were cast by Oskerka, 4th Ward Alderman Dick Sayad and 8th Ward Alderman Mike Charewicz.

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This architectural rendering depicts the revised plans for a proposed seven-story apartment building at Graceland and Webford avenues in downtown Des Plaines. Courtesy of Des Plaines
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